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Home > Reptiles > Brown Anole: Facts, Diet & Care Guide (with Pictures)

Brown Anole: Facts, Diet & Care Guide (with Pictures)

brown anole close up_Steve Bower_shutterstock

If you are a beginner looking to keep a lizard as a pet, consider getting a brown anole (also known as the Bahaman anole). These tiny creatures are often overlooked, but they make great pets.

They are inexpensive, semi-arboreal, active, and readily available. Besides, these anoles are hardy and do not demand fondling or pampering.

Want to find out more about the brown anole? Read on.

divider-reptileQuick Facts about Brown Anole

Species Name: Anolis sagrei
Common Name: Brown anole, Cuban brown anole, de la Sagra’s anole
Care Level: Beginner
Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches long
Diet: Carnivores
Minimum Tank Size: Tall 10-gallon tank
Temperature & Humidity: Basking temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Night temperatures should not drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 60% to 70% humidity.

Do Brown Anoles Make Good Pets?

Yes, brown anoles make great pets. They are easy to care for and are great for first-time reptile keepers. These lizards are active, enjoy climbing, and are fun to watch their red, orange-colored dewlaps.

What’s more, they are willing to interact with their owners. Once they have established trust, they enjoy feeding on their owner’s hands.

Brown anoles need gingerly handling or none at all. Besides, they can be reared with other lizard species like the long-tailed grass lizard.

Brown Anole
Image Credit: mvandepi, Pixabay

The Appearance of a Brown Anole

As their name suggests, they have a brown color. But they can also have a grayish or black color with a whitish or yellowish pattern on their back. These lizards can rapidly change their color when they feel threatened.

Males have an orange or red dewlap that has a white edge. These gorgeous dewlaps are often displayed when a male is protecting his territory or attracting a female.

Brown anoles has a less elongated body and a shorter snout when compared to Green Anoles.

How to Take Care of a Brown Anole

As previously stated, it is easy to take care of a Brown Anole. Here are the different conditions you need to fulfill.

Housing Tank

Brown anoles do not need much space. If you want to house a single lizard, a 10-gallon well-ventilated aquarium will do. For a pair or trio, have a 20- to 30-gallon terrarium. Alternatively, you can keep them in a wire cage of the same size.

The housing should have climbing plants, cork bark hides, as well as diagonal and horizontal limbs. The climbing plants serve as shelter, perching spots and create a sense of security.

Setting up an anole’s housing tank is easy. However, it needs to be cleaned to keep the creature healthy. Therefore, ensure you remove uneaten insects and droppings every day.

Then, clean and disinfect the aquarium once every week using soap or detergent. Also, clean any dishes inside the tank.

Always ensure you relocate the pet when cleaning the tank.


These lizards are diurnal and love basking in the sun. They need 10 to 12 hours of light every day. Brown anoles also require full-spectrum lighting, a reason why you should get a UVB light.

UVB lighting provides vitamin D, facilitates digestion, provides a day/night cycle, and strengthens your pet’s immune system. For best results, place the light in a reflexive fixture and let it shine for 14 hours a day. Also, change the bulb every 6 to 8 months regardless of its working condition.

Brown Anoles also thrive from plant grow lights as they provide extra illumination.

Heating (Temperature and Humidity)

In terms of temperature, these pests need a basking range of 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The terrarium should have a cool area, too, with 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit to provide a thermal gradient. During the night, the tank’s temperature should not drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to humidity, the housing should maintain 70% or more. This means that you should mist the terrarium twice or thrice to mimic the humidity levels in tropical rainforests.

Alternatively, you can place a water dish, add live plants, and enclose the cage to prevent moisture loss. To check the humidity levels inside the cell, use a digital probe hygrometer.

brown anole inflating its throat_Natalie Kuzmina_Shutterstock
Image By: Natalie Kuzmina, Shutterstock


The best substrate for anoles is a layer of natural bedding. You can opt for finely shredded mulch or dried oak leaves. Layering these substrates will make the terrarium look attractive and maintain the proper humidity levels.

However, there are three things to keep in mind:

  • Ensure the substrate is at least 2 inches deep.
  • It should be replaced when soiled with poop and urates.
  • Replace after 3 or 4 months.

Tank Recommendations

Tank Type: 10-gallon high terrarium
Lightning: Full-spectrum lighting
Heating: Halogen heat bulb
Best Substrate:  Naturalistic substrates such as coconut husk or cypress mulch

Feeding Your Brown Anole

The primary diet of brown anoles is insects. They eat small roaches, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and silkworms. Baby anoles need to feed daily while adults can eat after 2 to 4 days.

Brown anoles also need calcium and vitamin supplements to stay healthy. Baby anoles and ovulating females should have D3 calcium supplements twice a week. You can fulfill this by dusting the supplement on insects before feeding.

How about males? They need a vitamin-mineral supplement once every two weeks.

Diet Summary

Fruits: N/A
Insects:  100% of diet: crickets, roaches, worms
Meat:  N/A
Supplements Required:  Calcium and vitamins
brown anole eating flower_Wirestock Creators_Shutterstock
Image By: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Brown Anole Healthy

Brown anoles are alert, bright, and active when healthy. Their eyes, nostrils, and vent are clean and clear. The skin also displays zero signs of damage or parasites. In addition, they are ready to eat and defecates every couple of days.

But if a brown anole has any of the following signs, it is best to visit a vet.

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling
  • Mucus in mouth and nose
  • Bumps or abrasions on the skin
  • Labored breathing
  • Paralysis of limbs

Common Health Issues in Brown Anoles

These lizards are prone to gastrointestinal disease that is caused by parasitic or bacterial infection. Signs include loss of appetite, runny or smeared stool.

They also face vitamin deficiency due to insufficient amounts of calcium/vitamins or insufficient UVB lighting. When left untreated, the pet can suffer deformities, swollen limbs, lethargy, and softened bones.

Respiratory disease is another health issue. Signs include labored breathing, and a cold terrarium causes it.

Life Span

The brown anole has an average lifespan of 18 months. However, with proper care, these pets can live for 4 to 5 years.


These lizards breed between March and September. They are polygamous, which means one male can mate several females.

After copulation, the female lays one or two eggs in a fortnight to achieve 15 to 18 eggs during the season. She covers the eggs securely with leaf litter or moist soil then leaves them on their own.

The eggs take 6 to 8 weeks to incubate. When they hatch, the young anoles are fully developed and independent.

Are Brown Anoles Friendly? Our Handing Advice

Brown anoles are neither friendly nor hostile. Unlike dogs and cats, these creatures prefer minimal contact from humans and hate it when restrained.  They will jump or run away if spooked.

Therefore, when handling a brown anole, try not to put a lot of pressure on its body. This is because it can bite when trying to wiggle free. Also, do not grab it by the tail as it can detach it. Instead, slide your arm under its body.

Tip: If you notice that your pet’s color has darkened when holding it, this indicates that it is stressed.

Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect

Brown anoles do go through shedding or molting when they grow larger. But unlike snakes that shed in one large piece, they molt in small bits. It may be difficult for a pet owner to identify this phase as these lizards eat the molted skin to increase their calcium supply.

When in the wild, brown anoles go through brumation like other reptiles while in the wild. They adapt to the cold temperatures and stay inactive. During this time, they hide under bark, boards, houses, and inside rotten logs.

But for pet owners, the Brown Anole needs supplemental heat to stay healthy. The tank should have temperatures of 65 degrees and above.

How Much Do Brown Anoles Cost?

Brown anoles are inexpensive because they are highly available in the US. They cost between $5 to $10. Since they are hardy animals, they do not require constant veterinary care.

However, housing a brown anole can be expensive and can cost up to $250.

brown anole on the tree bark
Image By: Lorelei Galardi, Shutterstock

Care Guide Summary

Brown Anoles Pros
  • Brown anoles are easy to care for
  • Adults do not need to feed daily
  • They require little space
Brown Anoles Cons
  • Automatic misting systems are expensive
  • The males are territorial and cannot stay in one tank
  • The tank has to meet specific conditions for the anole to stay healthy
  • The terrarium has to be secure since these pets are active and like to climb


Brown anoles make great pets for children or first-time reptile keepers.

These little lizards are low-maintenance, active, hardy, and have beautiful dewlaps compared to other species. Besides, they have a lifespan of 5 years, feed on insects, and are inexpensive.

With this guide, you are more than ready to purchase and care for a Brown Anole!

Featured Image Credit: Steve Bower, Shutterstock

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